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326 CHAP. VIII. Of our Duties towards Man, and the general Virtues belonging thereto ..
342 Chap. IX. Of the first Class of Special Virtues connected with the Duty of Man towards himself
352 CHAP. X. Of the second Class of Virtues connected with the Duty of Man towards himself
371 CHAP. XI. Of the Duties of Man towards his Neighbour, and the Virtues comprehended under those Duties .
375 CHAP. XIL Of the Special Virtues or Duties which regard our Neighbour ... 389
CHAP. XII. Of the second Class of Special Duties towards our Neighbour . . . 395
CHAP. XIV. The second Class of Special Duties towards our Neighbour continued 416
CHAP. XV. Of the Reciprocal Duties of Man towards his Neighbour; and specially of Private Duties.
Of the remaining Class of Private Duties
CHAP. XVII. Of Public Duties towards our Neighbour
TO ALL THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST,
AND TO ALL
WHO PROFESS THE CHRISTIAN FAITH THROUGHOUT THE WORLD,
PEACE, AND THE RECOGNITION OF THE TRUTH,
AND ETERNAL SALVATION
IN GOD THE FATHER, AND IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
INCE the commencement of the last century, when religion began to be restored from the corruptions of more than thirteen hundred years to something of its original purity, many treatises of theology have been published, conducted according to sounder principles, wherein the chief heads of Christian doctrine are set forth sometimes briefly, sometimes in a more enlarged and methodical order. I think myself obliged, therefore, to declare in the first instance why, if any works have already appeared as perfect as the nature of the subject will admit, I have not remained contented with them or, if all my predecessors have treated it unsuccessfully, why their failure has not deterred me from attempting an undertaking of a similar kind.
If I were to say that I had devoted myself to the study of the Christian religion because nothing else can so effectually rescue the lives and minds of men from those two detestable curses, slavery and superstition,* I should seem to have acted rather from a regard to my highest earthly comforts, than from a religious motive.
But since it is only to the individual faith of each that the Deity has opened the way of eternal salvation, and as he requires that he who would be saved should have a personal belief of his own,t I resolved not to repose on the faith or judgment of others in matters relating to God; but on the one hand, having taken the grounds of my faith from divine revelation alone, and on the other, having neglected nothing which depended on my own industry, I thought fit to scrutinize and ascertain for myself the several points of my religious belief, by the most careful perusal and meditation of the Holy Scriptures themselves.
If therefore I mention what has proved beneficial in my own practice, it is in the hope that others, who have a similar wish of improving themselves, may be thereby invited to pursue the same method. I entered upon an assiduous course of study in my youth, beginning with the books of the Old and New Testament in their original languages, and going diligently through a few of the shorter systems of divines, in imitation of whom I was in the habit of classing under certain heads whatever passages of Scripture occurred for extraction, to be made use of hereafter as occasion might require. At length I resorted with increased confidence to some of the more copious theological treatises, and to the examination of the arguments advanced by the conflicting parties respecting certain disputed points of faith. But, to speak the truth with freedom as well as candour, I was concerned to discover in many instances adverse reasonings either evaded by wretched shifts, or attempted to be refuted, rather speciously than with solidity, by an affected display of formal sophisms, or by a constant recourse to the quibbles of the grammarians; while what was most pertinaciously espoused as the true doctrine, seemed often defended, with more vehemence than strength of argument, by misconstructions of Scripture, or by the hasty deduction of erroneous inferences. Owing to these causes, the truth was sometimes as strenuously opposed as if it had been an error or a heresy-while errors and heresies were substituted for the truth, and valued rather from deference to custom and the spirit of party, than from the authority of Scripture.
* "Vota vestra et preces ardentissimas Deus, cum servitutis haud uno genere oppressi ad eum confugistis, benigne exaudiit. Quæ duo in vita hominum mala sane maxima sunt, et virtuti damnosissima, tyrannis et superstitio, iis vos gentium primos gloriose liberavit.' Pro Pop. Anglican. Defens. ad finem. Milton's Prose Works, Symmons's Edition, Vol. V.
What but unbuild
-Paradise Lost, XII. 526.
According to my judgement, therefore, neither my creed nor my hope of salvation could be safely trusted to such guides; and yet it appeared highly requisite to possess some methodical tractate of Christian doctrine, or at least to attempt such a disquisition as might be useful in establishing my faith or assisting my memory.
Ideemed it therefore safest and most advisable to compile for myself, by my own labour and study, some original treatise which should be always at hand, derived solely from the word of God itself, and executed with all possible fidelity, seeing that I could have no wish to practise any imposition on myself in such a matter.
After a diligent perseverance in this plan for several
years, I perceived that the strong holds of the reformed religion were sufficiently fortified, as far as it was in danger from the Papists,—but neglected in many
other quarters; neither competently strengthened with works of defence, nor adequately provided with champions. It was also evident to me, that, in religion as in other things, the offers of God were all directed, not to an indolent credulity, but to constant diligence, and to an unwearied search after truth; and that more than I was aware of still re